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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (Samoa News, Jan. 6) - Governor Togiola left last night for Honolulu to see a kidney specialist at Straub Hospital after being hospitalized since Wednesday morning suffering from a kidney stone.

The governor was accompanied by his wife, Mary, and an LBJ physician.

A statement from the Governor's Office said Togiola was admitted to LBJ hospital after experiencing excruciating pain from a kidney stone. The pains, which occurred on the right side of his lower back, started Tuesday. He visited the hospital that day, and X-rays, CT scans and ultrasound tests confirmed "the presence of a good size stone in the right kidney."

The statement noted that after a few hours of treatment in order to relieve the pain and provide comfort, Togiola went home to Mauagaoali'i and returned to work on Tuesday. The governor also attended the Samoa Bowl IV that evening.

On Wednesday morning, the governor felt the same pain on his way to work, and he returned to the hospital where he was admitted for observation.

Yesterday afternoon before he boarded the flight for Honolulu, Acting Medical Director Tofaeono Dr. Victor Williams reported that the governor was "comfortable" at the LBJ Medical Center's Surgical Ward.

"The governor is going to be fine," he told Samoa News. "He has this kidney condition that needs to be looked at by a specialist that is not available here."

LBJ's Dr. Iotamo Saleapaga recommended the governor seek immediate medical attention off island, but Togiola requested to remain on island until after the Fono's opening on Monday. However, Saleapaga insisted on immediate travel for treatment in Honolulu.

Dr. Saleapaga said it was important that the governor traveled on the next available flight to avoid any damage to the kidney.

"I wish to inform the territory that I am following doctors' recommendations to report to Honolulu for treatment of a kidney stone," the governor said in a statement yesterday afternoon. "It is not life threatening and I want everyone to know that even governors have bad days."

"We thank the people for their concerns and well wishes and ask everyone not to worry," he said. "Thank God it is nothing more serious. I hope to return home after treatment in a week."

In the statement, the governor extended his congratulations to the new House Speaker, Savali Talavou Ale, and said he looks forward to working with all members of the new 30th Legislature.

In his absence, Lt. Gov. Ipulasi A. Sunia "will assume responsibilities and management of all government affairs. I have the utmost confidence in his experience and capabilities to manage our government," Togiola said.

A kidney stone is a hard mass that occurs when calcium oxalate or other chemicals in the urine form crystals that stick together, according to the National Kidney Foundation. These crystals may grow into stones ranging in size from a grain of sand to a golf ball.

The most common method for removing kidney stones is called extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL). The stones are located using X-ray and ultra-sound scanning and a machine sends shock waves to the stones to break them up so they can be passed in urine.According to the National Kidney Foundation, strong evidence suggests that a high fluid (water) intake may decrease the risk of stones. In addition, once the cause of the stone is found, medications or changes in diet may be used to help prevent new stones. The type of medication used is based on blood and urine tests.

Kidney stones occur in about 12 per cent of men and four per cent of women.

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